Civil society welcomes decision to prosecute Zuma

2018-03-16 21:10
President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo Images)

President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo Images)

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Cape Town – While civil society welcomed the decision of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams to prosecute former president Jacob Zuma, the move has done little to warm their feelings towards Abrahams.

"At last the axe has eventually fallen," Ben Theron, chief operating officer of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), said in a statement released on Friday, shortly after Abrahams made his decision public.

"Jacob Zuma's day in court has been long overdue and, while we applaud Shaun Abrahams for eventually taking the obvious decision, we believe he is largely to blame for the unnecessary delay in getting this matter to where it is today," he said.

READ: NPA to prosecute former president Jacob Zuma

"Nonetheless, South Africans have a very good reason to be happy our criminal justice system is working in favour of the people, reminding us and those in authority that no one is above the law."

He said, while it appeared for a very long time that Zuma was above the law, they remained confident that the barriers between him and having his day in court will eventually be removed.

"That day has now arrived."

OUTA looks forward to an independent, robust prosecution taking place under a new NDPP. 

"These charges were laid before Zuma was president, thus he must pay for his defence out of his own pocket," Theron added.

SCROLL: EFF on Zuma charges: 'The 'Eiffel Tower' in France has fallen'

UniteBehind also welcomed the decision and said, since its inception last year, it has demanded that Zuma be prosecuted over the corruption charges.

"In November last year, we took our demands to the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) offices in Cape Town. We called for the NPA to #ArrestZuma or #ArrestUs," a UniteBehind statement read. 

"The NPA refused to arrest Zuma and instead, eight of our activists were charged with trespassing and spent a night behind bars. The NPA has finally taken the steps to instate the charges against Mr Zuma, but it has taken far too long."

READ: Schabir Shaik on THOSE Zuma charges

UniteBehind also called on Abrahams to step down. 

"The High Court has already determined that his appointment was invalid and he must step aside so that someone beyond reproach can begin to prosecute those who captured our state under Mr Zuma.

"We trust that Mr Zuma will finally face his day in court - a situation he apparently desired." 

The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomed the announcement.  

"This brings to an end a decade of litigation over the initial NPA decision in 2009 to withdraw the charges levelled against former President Zuma. Given the uninspiring record of the NPA in the prosecution of politically-connected individuals, there is perhaps need for cautious optimism," reads its statement. 

"Nevertheless, with the overwhelming public interest and the presence of a vociferous and robust civil society and the possibility of private prosecution, it is hoped that the NPA will be true to its constitutional mandate of prosecuting without fear, favour or prejudice."

The organisation said, while the successful prosecution of highly-connected political figures will bring relief to "the angst-ridden South African public", it is still not enough to fully restore confidence in this vital institution.

"More than that, the NPA needs to make good on its word concerning the investigations into state capture. Perhaps that will be the catalyst for the NPA towards reclaiming their constitutionally-appointed role as an institution that upholds justice and the rule of law."

Read more on:    npa  |  ndpp  |  jacob zuma  |  corruption allegations

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